Journalism Internship Applications: Some Students Still Forced to Snail Mail Them In

David Schick doesn’t want to mail it in.

In this glorious age of live-blogging, streaming video, Dropbox, mobile scanning apps, digital portfolios and free PDF conversions, the top-notch University of Georgia journalism student is aghast that in order to apply for internships at a number of leading news outlets he is still required to submit hard-copy applications via snail mail.

He has decided to go public with his gripes, even if it costs him the gigs.

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In a new blog post, Schick summarizes the old-fashioned lunacy in play:

“From resumés to cover letters to newspaper clips that must be photocopied onto 8½ by 11 paper. Just stick all of that into an envelope and you’re on your way to an internship with The Washington Post, Boston Globe or Dallas Morning News. And those are just the three that I’ve found so far. I even inquired to one organization if I could just send them links to my stories. And the response I got? ‘I’d prefer if you made copies of those stories and mailed them to us. Thanks.'”

No, thank you.

So, what’s going on here, really? Is it a sign of an older generation still in charge and valuing tradition over innovation? (Heck, they still apparently provide spittoons for the justices in the U.S. Supreme Court.) Is it indicative of the across-the-board newsroom cost-cutting, rendering a workable online application system moot?

Could it possibly be the editors’ way of weeding out the lightweights from the truly eager — those game enough to print, scan, tape, resize and ship versus simply plugging in links and hitting send? I can understand this notion from a pure sanity standpoint, but I don’t think it should outweigh where we are (or where we should be) with journalism 3.0.

We want students to be smarter, more innovative and more efficient workers. To apply for internships, they should be polishing their digital portfolios, triple-checking the links to their multimedia-rich reporting samples, crafting engaging intro emails free of spelling mistakes and maintaining professional-ish social media presences.

Students’ internship application buzzwords should be Bitly, Issuu, WordPress, Gmail, Genius Scan, Twitter and Carbonmade, not UPS, Xerox, Scotch tape, Elmer’s glue, Office Depot and Forever stamps.

As Schick metaphorically asks these hard-copy-or-bust editors, “What does it say to a potential intern when you’re requiring them to mail in an application? Clearly, as a news organization in 2014, you should be embracing technology — which includes this marvelous invention known as email — right? To me, it says that you’re holding on too tightly to the past.”

Happy Monday.

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Comments
One Response to “Journalism Internship Applications: Some Students Still Forced to Snail Mail Them In”
  1. I think it’s more so providing a professional distance between the writers and the publication. I have been on both ends of this, as a writer seeking publication/awards and as a person managing a publication and the endless submissions that come in. The people submitting can be pesky. Snail mail may keep such people at bay. As a writer, when I submit electronically, I feel as if my work went into a black hole. At least with mail, a physical copy lands in someone’s hands.

    Also, there may be a committee reviewing applications, so clips and letters would likely have to be archived in some way, anyway. At least if they are snail mailed, they are already sized and ready to be scanned or Xeroxed, whatever the committee’s preference.

    Also, adding the postal aspect may mean the difference between getting 50 serious applications vs. 500 applications with half not serious at all. For a committee, 50 good apps is all that is needed. As a writer, I’d rather be in the pool of 1/50 vs. 1/500. Count it as a blessing, kid.

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